Storm-battered, sleep-deprived animal care and rescue teams were counting the minutes Monday until they would be allowed to go into Gustav-damaged areas and tend to abandoned animals that survived.

"We're aware that animals were left in backyards, and we're getting phone calls from people asking us to check on them," said Rich Crook of Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society.

Experts say the pet issue has been better handled than for Katrina, when thousands of animals perished or were lost and never reunited with their owners.

More than 1,000 evacuee-owned dogs, cats, birds, bunnies, hamsters and iguanas — and one snake — were being cared for Monday at the so-called Mega Shelter in Shreveport, La.